do you play summer yard games?

RLHyde Croquet Flickr

There’s nothing like a trip home to spark a fierce bout of nostalgia. This past weekend, a short visit to my parents’ out in the suburbs served not only as a brief respite from the congestion of the city, but also as an invitation for the most bittersweet of childhood nostalgias for this city girl: yard nostalgia. The wistful longing for summer nights spent running around barefoot on freshly cut grass. As kids my sister, brother and I would hang around outside with the neighborhood kids playing all sorts of yard games. A favorite was croquet. Even though we didn’t know the rules, we’d often get the set out and knock the bright balls around with the colorful mallets. Bocce was another we played, albeit with our own rules, that has become popular in the city, even with its lack of yard space. Some bars and apartment complexes have designated areas for the sport, but nothing compares to the beauty of an expansive yard in the summertime. If I had one, I’d be right back at it, and would love to introduce some giant, yard-approved versions of table games, like Jenga, which can be made according to this how-to at Instructables, or even this larger-than-life game of Scrabble, found at Click here to read about an Ohio couple who made an even larger paver Scrabble board in their backyard. How cool is that? Readers, do you play summer yard games? — Sarah C.

photo by Flickr member RLHyde

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need creative packaging? sew some!


I had a lovely dinner party last month that included treats for each guest to take home – a trio of roasted and seasoned nuts. I packaged each one in a brown wax bag, tied each with cooking twine, and sealed with a little wax for a fancy touch. But I was at a loss as to what to put the individual packages in. My first thought was take-out boxes, but I couldn’t justify another $5 for a box that was going to be tossed out once opened. Ouch! Time to get crafty … I had a number of brown paper bags left from grocery shopping, and after a few trials I came up with a cute package that I felt good about giving. I cut open each bag and, to mask the fold lines, dampened each a little and crumpled them. (Dampening helps the paper to crumple easier). Then I smoothed, ironed on low, and cut two large rectangles out of each bag. I folded the rectangles in half, sewed on two sides, filled each with the packages of nuts, pinned shut the open side (but at 90 degrees from the first side) and sewed this end closed. Done! The brown paper was a nice complement to my rustic wax paper bags and sealing wax, and at no extra expense. Do you have any crafty wrapping solutions? — Rebecca F.

Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik

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party planning? check out these fun sites

shopsweetlulu cupcakes
shopsweetlulu partypackstraws

In our apartment, summer means it’s party-planning time 100% of the time. With a roommate who doubles as a professional Maid-of-Honor, we tend to do more chatting about flowers and cupcakes now than we did back in Mrs. Elefante’s 3rd grade class. And while we’re all for do-it-yourself, budget-friendly options, we’ve stumbled upon a few sites whose adorable wares are certainly worth a mention. Among them, Luna Bazaar and Shop Sweet Lulu. With it’s handy option to shop by color, Luna Bazaar is a great resource for anyone planning an event with a strong color theme, and with more than 375 paper lantern styles, a must-shop for those planning outdoor summer soirees. Polka-dot lovers, look no further than Shop Sweet Lulu’s stable of cupcake liners, straws, balloons and candles. Even if you’re surfing for inspiration alone, these two gems are a fun escape from the everyday. How cute are these spools of Divine Twine? Have any party shops to add? Sound off in comments. — Sarah C.

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don’t leave town without it: crumpled city map

crumpled map
crumpled maps packaging

It’s tough being a tourist — airport delays, tricky language barriers, and unfamiliar bathroom situations. One thing you don’t have to worry about is wasting precious vacation time trying to fold your map back up perfectly thanks to the Crumpled City Map ($18). Designed by Emanuele Pizzolorusso for Palomar and printed on lightweight, 100% waterproof material, this city guide is meant to be stuffed into back pockets, clutch purses, and backpacks. Bonus: Each map comes with 10 marked “Soulsights” that the Italian designer describes as “places filled with intense emotions that are brought to life by the people passing through or stopping off in them. Visit these places and you will feel like an artist, a poet, a photographer, a director, a lover and a dreamer.” –Katie D.

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want it now: the mod cuckoo clock

Screen shot 2011-07-12 at 5.08.05 PM

One of my fondest memories of my grandparents’ house is of an old German cuckoo clock that my grandfather especially loved. It was old-fashioned, hand-carved, and every single morning, he would remember to wind that clock before he left for work. I remember sitting underneath it constantly, waiting and waiting for a new hour to strike so I could watch the dancers go around in a circle, and see that little cuckoo pop out of the top.
Screen shot 2011-07-12 at 5.08.18 PM

Sadly, it’s probably not terribly stylish now to have one of those big, clunky clocks on your wall. But I still love the idea of that little cuckoo – so when I spied this thoroughly modern interpretation of the classic over at CB2, I couldn’t help but covet it. Those clean lines and minimal colors couldn’t be further from the original, but it still makes me smile.

What do you think? Would you hang a cuckoo on your wall? –Becki S.

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